Dear Free-Range Kids: Here in Loudoun, VA, I am a the mother of three little girls at an elementary school who was just ARRESTED for getting my girls late to school. After the fifth offense there was a meeting with a truant officer. We were late twice since then, which resulted in the surprise of three officers showing up on this Sat night ( 1.21.2012), where I was literally handcuffed and brought to the Adult Detention Center to meet with the magistrate who chose to release me with a $3,000 bond promised to be paid if I fail to show up for the arraignment in a few days. [N.B. The court date is Weds., Jan. 25.]
The charge is “contributing to the delinquency of her minor children.” The VA code is written that after five absences the truant officer meets with parents and then works with them in cases in which students are absent without awareness and notification from a parent. My truant officer seems to miss the rather obvious distinction between ABSENCE without a parent’s knowledge, and TARDINESS. Our lateness has been, on average, less than ten minutes.
Considering that all four of us — the kids and me — have had medical care for disabilities (some with a diagnosis of ADHD, others with other psychological issues, which the school is very aware of), I find it not only a waste of resources and taxpayer dollars to engage our police and courts for this, but also an absolute failure on the part of our school to service those with disabilities with any sort of empathy and understanding. There is nothing short of animosity in their treatment of me as a mother, as if I am incompetent due to the one problem of having difficulty getting my children to school on time.
While it is debatable whether or not I am a decent mother, EVEN IF I WERE NOT it would hardly be CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR to be so imperfect. — A Virginia Mom
Lenore here again: I agree. Once we start criminalizing imperfect parents, all of us are at risk…because there are no perfect parents.